The war against crime – replacing veterans with raw recruits
A stranger phoned me the other day with an immigration problem. Domiciled in Cayman for nineteen years, no criminal record, owns a block of land in West Bay – yet he is on his final Work Permit, and is under notice to leave the Islands by the end of March. Is there anything in local human-rights law that would allow him to stay?
I had to tell him, as gently as I could, that there is no human-rights law in Cayman worthy of the name, and that international Conventions are not applied here. Our Human Rights Commission is a token body only, whose terms of reference don’t extend to human-rights abuses of immigrants.
In practice, ten years’ residence carries no entitlement to stay longer – or even nineteen years’ residence. The formal Rollover period is a sham; it is whatever the Immigration Monster says it is, case by case. Furthermore, people like my caller would probably not be allowed back in Cayman after twelve months away. People like him are actually beyond the protection of the law; they can count themselves lucky not to be arrested, jailed, fined and deported all in the same week.
He has two special handicaps – things that will make you go “Ahh, I see!” when you read them. First, he’s a black Jamaican. “Ahh, I see!” Second, he used to be married to a Caymanian, and is now divorced. “Ahh, I SEE!” Nuff said! Our Immigration Monster eats people like him for breakfast. If it could, it would put people like him on the list of animals to be culled, like rats and green iguanas.
It is hugely embarrassing, having to tell people like him that the Cayman establishment has a genuine hatred of people like them, and that its officials are authorised to abuse their discretionary powers to deport people well after the internationally accepted ten years’ limit.
(Now I don’t know the man who phoned me, and his story may be false. But there are more than enough similar stories around to make it highly plausible. I tell people they could take their case to the European Court of Human Rights if they had a million dollars, or maybe only half a million. But if they don’t have that kind of money, well, too bad.)
“Half a village”
There are many ordinary, decent, Caymanians who see the sense in uniting all long-term residents of Cayman into a single community, and the stupidity of alienating immigrants. They know in their hearts that if the Cayman Islands are ever to create a viable long-term economic and social future, there must be a cordial unity of purpose among all long-term residents. A division based on birthplace is as stupid as a division based on race or marital status.
So why are those ordinary, decent, Caymanians so tolerant of the Immigration authorities’ prejudices? Our future is currently under threat from street criminals, not by long-term residents with clean Police records. Our future is also threatened by corruption and other non-violent criminality occurring within the government establishment itself. Can Caymanians alone fix those problems? No, they can’t. “It takes a village…”, they say. Nobody says, “It takes half a village”, or a third of a village, as we have here.
We have a serious crime problem, that is growing worse by the month. Yet the privileged one-third of our “village” refuses to allow the other two-thirds to participate in the battle except as spear carriers. Even worse, it employs hundreds of Immigration clerks and dozens of part-time members of the related boards, to alienate the two-thirds so that they (the latter) don’t even want to participate. Why? It (the one-third) doesn’t just exclude black Jamaicans divorced from Caymanian wives. It excludes every immigrant with a mind of his or her own.
Besides crime, we have a broad range of serious problems relating to economic development – new ones every month. Yet as a general statement the only way immigrants (stooges excepted) are allowed to participate is as serfs. Our government finances are in desperate trouble, yet no immigrant critics are welcomed – or even acknowledged, most of the time. Our privileged one-third knows best, because it was born here. “We know all about economics because our grandfathers sold the fish they caught. If that isn’t economics, I don’t know what is.” Cripes.
It’s worse than stupid: it’s pig-ignorant and dangerous. There are literally thousands of expats, short-term and long-term, whose expertise and experience is valued at zero. We as a community cannot afford to alienate them by allowing the Immigration Monster to disrespect foreign residents. The stakes are too high.
It’s a well-worn theme of mine. Of the 59 entries on my personal blogsite (feel free to Google “barlowscayman” at your leisure), immigration is the topic most often covered. My very first entry, “Guarding the guards” in October 2010, criticised the failure of our community to unite in a common purpose. Later postings homed in on the xenophobia of the Immigration authorities as the reason for the failure, and predicted that street crime and corruption would get worse until the official policy changed.
Well, there has been no change, and no change is on the horizon. Government’s Immigration experts either don’t care enough or don’t have guts enough to recommend any meaningful change. The everlasting Rollover fiasco proves my point. “Let’s put a comma here, change this verb to that one, change the twelve to a three, and Bob’s your uncle. All the expats are bound to fall for it, and believe that we care whether they live or die. Whee! This immigration management is easy, and fun!”
As things stand, the calls for Caymanians to arm themselves will continue to grow louder. More of them (Caymanians) will be prepared to kill aggressors in defence of their homes and persons. Expat residents, not so much. All expats need to do is push off home and let themselves be replaced by raw recruits with no loyalty to Cayman. That’s the way the Immigration authorities want it. They want a populace of transients with no stake in society, even if – even though – that means losing the wars against street crime, corruption, and fiscal incompetence. Go figure.